Sometimes, pastors do some very real and, hopefully, very effective pastoral care through our social media connections. To be sure, Facebook, Twitter, Perisciope, Instagram, etc. can be distractions. But they can also be useful tools.
Recently, we received an important question from a CVC attender about depression. How we answered might help someone else out there who is struggling with the same issue.
Hi pastors! I know you both read a lot and I’m a little overwhelmed with choices right now. I’m looking for a book for Christians dealing with depression. But I want to read someone who shares the same beliefs [that we do] and can be a good guide. I want to be careful what I’m reading.
I’m looking for clinical and biblical help in the book. Can you recommend a specific book or author? Thanks guys! I’ve struggled with depression most of my life but the last couple of months it got really bad. I am seeing a doctor.
He changed my medication and I feel better but one of the worst feelings that I experienced in addition to the depression was the intense guilt that as a Christian I shouldn’t be depressed. I need to research that because feeling guilty made me spiral further down and the need to escape takes me further from God.
The last thing you want to hear when it’s taking everything not to jump off the nearest bridge is that you are in sin and need to change something you are doing. So as a person who struggles with this I tend to keep it out of the church. I call it separation of church and crazy.
I know God loves me even at my worst and He has surrounded me with great people. But I need the knowledge for myself because when I’m that low I just can’t hear what anyone else is saying. And separation from God is not an option.
Answer from Pastor Chad:
Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing openly. We all struggle with levels of depression at times. Psalm 42:3, a Psalm of David, says, “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’”
For some, it’s minimal and fleeting. For others, it’s chronic. Ultimately, it’s a result of the fall of man, it is intensified by our personalities and experiences, and it’s with us until the finally victory of the return of Christ. I can’t wait for that! You are in good company in your battle: King David, Job, and other Godly people demonstrated emotional vulnerability like us. We cling to and fight with the hope that is ours in Christ and the joy that is ours in Christ. Praying for God’s strength and comfort as you battle!
Answer from Pastor Rick:
One of my favorite pastors, CH Spurgeon struggled mightily with depression. I myself have a melancholic personality. I will pray for you.
It’s not a sin to struggle with depression. But we must learn to use all of God’s tools to war for joy. It’s more of a battle for some of us than it is for others. I Kings 19 is a story about the great prophet Elijah’s battle with depression and how God encouraged him. Happiness Is a Choice by Frank Minirth and Paul Meier is an old book that you can probably pick up on online for a few pennies.
Beating Burnout might also be helpful. Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd Jones may be excellent as well. You may have heard me share that I am on a pursuit to experience more joy this year. I will likely continue this pursuit in 2016. Here is a report about my progress on my blog. You might be able to get a few ideas from it.
Thank you so much for the options! I chose the following and will let you know what I think: When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper, You’ll Get Through This by Max Lucado, Happiness Is a Choice, and Grace for the Afflicted: A clinical and biblical perspective on mental illness by Matthew S Stanford.
I believe that a great many people inside and outside of our church deal with depression. Depression is so isolating as it is and the lies in your head are so loud the enemy doesn’t even need to work that hard the depression does all the work for him. People need to know they can share that with other Christians without fear of judgment.
They need to know what the Bible says. They need to know what God says. They need to know how to cope with the sinful behavior that comes with trying to escape depression – like over eating or over spending or sexual sin or drug or alcohol abuse. It’s a huge thing. When you feel that bad you would do anything to feel better or not feel at all. I know as a parent I was afraid to get help because I didn’t want anyone to have a reason to take away my kids.
There is so much stigma attached to mental issues. People need a safe place and to be loved until they find healing. Shouldn’t that place be the church? Sorry. It’s just that I can’t even describe how painful and frightening severe depression can be.
Please pray with us for this CVC attender so that the dark clouds will be lifted and the joy of the Lord will be present.